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Duke to Repay Stolen Grant Money

August 21, 2002

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DURHAM, N.C. (AP) _ Duke University has agreed to repay the federal government $682,000 it says was stolen by two employees accused of swindling a star researcher.

Professor Kenneth G. Manton was removed last year as director of Duke’s Center for Demographic Studies while federal authorities investigate misuse of grant money, a Duke spokesman said.

Manton, 55, whose findings on aging have influenced national debates on Medicare and Social Security, remains on the faculty.

Two center employees with whom Manton lived, Edward Davison and Christopher Fowler, were fired last year and charged with theft, accused of using a Duke credit card to buy restaurant equipment for a diner.

According to published reports, Manton became depressed by the death of a female companion in 2000 and checked into a hospital. During that time, he says in court documents, he unknowingly signed away power of attorney to Davison and Fowler.

Court documents show Davison sold Manton’s home and automobiles, along with filing his taxes and pocketing the refund.

Manton filed a lawsuit in May 2001 seeking $500,000 in personal assets he said the two had taken. Davison and Fowler reportedly have paid $138,000.

Duke police arrested the two in April 2001, but the men posted bail and disappeared, the university said.

Manton’s work has brought tens of millions of dollars in grants to Duke from the National Institute for Aging. He has been cited frequently for a 1997 study that found an unexpected reduction in rates of disability among older people.

Both Duke and the National Institute on Aging decided that Manton’s research was not compromised during the incident and that he could stay on as lead researcher with more oversight.

Manton’s lawyer, Malvern F. King Jr., told The New York Times that his client ``suffered severe personal and financial violations by people whom he trusted″ but will continue his work.

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